Friday, January 29, 2016

Data Shows Decrease in Driver's License Numbers

If Superbad was shot today, McLovin would be having
his adventures on the bus
We've been saying for the past few years that fewer people are driving (although the overall miles
driven has actually increased) and that young people are deciding not to drive in record numbers. How do we know that? Drivers license data.

According to the Human Transit blog, University of Michigan researchers recently released an update on the percentage of people with driver’s licenses in the United States. In 2011, data showed that the percentage of young people with driver’s licenses decreased noticeably between 1983 and 2008.
The percentages for 20- to 24-year-olds fell from 91.8% in 1983 to 82% according to the 2011 research. The updated numbers show that those percentages fell again, to 76.7% in 2014.

So how are these young people getting around if not driving? Uber and Lyft show promising numbers but their data doesn't show that's the main way millennials are getting from point A to point B. According to statistics from transit agencies, it's by public transit. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Input Wanted On Proposed Millwood Trail

Apparently, a lot of people are interested in a potential new trail for the area, because a public meeting at Millwood City Hall for the Millwood Trail last night had an impressive turnout of enthusiastic people, at least while I was there.

When complete, the trail will traverse three area jurisdictions on former railroad right-of-way- Spokane Valley, Millwood and the City of Spokane. The portion that will cross through Millwood (the agency that hosted the meeting last night, along with a consultant hired to manage Millwood's portion of the trail) starts at Vista Road, continues across Argonne Road and past the city park and Avista substation to the Trent Avenue overpass.
When connected with sections in other jurisdicitons, the trail will connect Spokane Community College at Green St and continue east of to approximately Woodruff Road and Trent in Spokane Valley.

At the meeting last night, a team working on the project asked people what amenities they would like to see on the trail. Some of the most popular items were lighting, trash cans, restrooms, landscaping and vegetation, and educational signage.

If you have thoughts on this project but didn't make the meeting, you can still submit comments or talk to project staff. More information on the Millwood Trail and contact information is here.

Planning and design of the trail is underway right now and is expected to continue through June of 2016. Currently construction of the trail is planned for 2017 and 2018 although the phase of the project has no dedicated funding source at this time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Scope Changes Will Improve Projects for Citizens

Something kind of cool happened in the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting today. One of the items on the agenda was "Scope Change Requests." Staff from the City of Spokane and Spokane Valley were requesting to change the description of planned projects that are being paid for with federal funds provided through SRTC. To be in compliance, requested changes have to be run through SRTC for approval if they wish to change the scope significantly.

Two projects really stood out because they would provide significant improvements over what is currently planned. The first project was the Downtown Spokane Bicycle Network. It had two phases and was essentially finished in 2015. However, in looking back at the first phase, City staff was concerned that they had pretty much done the minimum on that project, basically just painting some bike lanes and calling it good. Their scope change request was to go back and improve upon that by adding sharrows or other markings to the roadway and signs as well. These improvements won't cost any additional money than is already dedicated to the project as the project came in under budget.

The second project, in Spokane Valley, is for Mission Avenue near the intersection with Long Road. The original plan was to make the section in question three lanes, with one lane each direction and a center turn lane. It would also have sidewalks and bike lanes. After meeting with people who live in the neighborhood several times, Valley staff decided to change the project description after realizing that's not what residents want. Instead, they are seeking to eliminate the third lane and just make the roadway two lanes. The extra space from the third lane will instead (if approved by the SRTC Board) be used for the bike lanes on each side and separated sidewalks. Plus they requested a roundabout at the intersection with Long Road in order to slow traffic down. This change also will not require any additional funding.

What is exciting about this is that it shows how public involvement is working and that staff at area jurisdictions really do care. The City could have walked away from their bike network project realizing it wasn't as good as it could be and said "good enough." But they didn't. And Spokane Valley staff could have politely thanked citizens for their input and carried on with the project as planned. But they didn't.

So here is the next step: members of the TTC voted today to recommend to SRTC's Board that they accept these scope changes. The Board will vote in February on whether to move ahead with them.

Forget a Real Pony, A Pony Cycle Could Be More Fun

Bikes are fun and a good workout and all but why ride a boring old bike when you can ride a pony? Ponycycle, that is. New Zealand has a new transportation option with Ponycycles, a ride-on mechanical gizmos for both children and adults.

The "toys" have a wheel at the end of each leg and moved forward through human power by pumping your legs, kind of like swinging. Right now a company is only renting them out in New Zealand but they plan to sell them for home use soon. They are also available in South Africa.

The best part- these ponies don't need food, water or grooming.

Why Go to the Gas Station When You Can Have the Fuel Delivered to Your Car?

Are you so busy that you don't even have time to put gas in your car yourself? A new app could help. Or it could make us the laziest people on the planet. According to The Verge, WeFuel is basically like ordering anything else you need- parts for the refrigerator, clothes, you can even have groceries delivered these days.

To use it, you download the app, type in the location of your car and request a fuel delivery. Within about 30 minutes, a hazmat-certified driver arrives in a truck and fills your vehicle with gas. If your gas tank door doesn't require a key, you don't even have to be there.

The cost per gallon for the gas is calculated daily based on specific zip codes but where the company makes it's money is from the $7.49 fill up fee. There are plans later to start a monthly scubscription service for unlimited fills at $19.99 per month per car, plus the price of the gas.

While WeFuel is only operating in the Silicon Valley currently, there are several other gas delivery apps that have sprung up lately, including Filld, GasNinjas, FuelMe and Yoshi. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2015 Record Year For Vehicle Miles Traveled

A couple years ago, everyone in transportation was reporting that driving was down. People were finding other ways to get around- riding their bikes, the bus, whatever. Then we heard that people were getting back behind the wheel. And today there is news from the U.S. Department of Transportation, on their Fast Lane blog, that 2015 was a record year for vehicle miles traveled. 

According to USDOT numbers, U.S. drivers ran up almost three trillion (yes with a 't') vehicle miles traveled last year. Each of the first 11 months of 2015 showed an increase of between 2.5 and 4.9 percent from the same month in 2014. Data isn't in from December yet. Even so, those numbers make 2015 the most heavily traveled year in history.

That doesn't necessarily mean that individuals are driving more miles. The population has grown, meaning more people are driving, and truck shipments have increased, putting more large trucks on the road.

This isn't a record that those of us in the transportation industry are celebrating. Each of those miles means a lot of wear and tear on our roadways, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and increases traffic congestion.

DOE Hosting Workshops on Oil Train Shipments

If you are interested in shaping laws related to oil shipments through Washington State, the Department of Ecology is holding a couple workshops for the public at its' Spokane office.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the first workshop will focus on contingency planning for oil-by-rail shipments. It is from 8:30-11:30 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27.

The second workshop, also tomorrow from 1:30-4:30 p.m., will address notification requirements of oil shipments by rail and pipeline, including how much information to release to the public.

The Department of Ecology’s Spokane office is at 4601 North Monroe Street.You can find more information at

Monday, January 25, 2016

Transportation Technical Committee Meeting This Week

The first Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) meeting of 2016 is this Wednesday, Jan. 27. The meeting agenda can be found here.  TTC meetings are always open to the public so if something on the agenda catches your interest, feel free to attend. They start at 1:30 p.m. in the SRTC conference room at the Intermodal Center, 221 W. 1st Ave., Suite 310. 

All-Community Central City Line Workshop Scheduled

CCL Vehicle Type
Mark your calendars- Spokane Transit is hosting an All-Community Central City Line Workshop to update citizens on the project and gather input on a variety its elements including:
  •  Alignment (which roads through Downtown it will travel on)
  • Stop locations
  • Station design and amenities
  • Potential land use policies and economic development incentives to complement the project’s transit function

The workshop is Tuesday, February 2 in the lobby of the Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Science (PBS) Building at WSU Spokane from 4-6 p.m.

Area Centennial Trail Priorities Set for 2016

The Friends of the Centennial Trail Board each January sets priorirites for the year for the trail. Here are the priorities they recently determined for 2016:
  • Finalize a gap completion plan for Argonne Road.
  • Find a solution for the Trail gap from Boone to Pettet Drive that provides Class 1 roadway separation.
  • Invest in way finding signs, markers and mile posts when it is expedient to do so.
  • Support Spokane City Parks plan to renovate the Don Kardong Bridge.
  • Encourage Trail use counting technology in the Spokane Valley and Riverside State Park.
  • Advocate for all recreational trails in the region.
  • Support completion of six major Trail maintenance projects in 2016.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Amendment Proposed to Transportation Improvement Program

An amendment to the 2016-2019 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) proposes adding a Spokane Valley project to the program and increasing the total cost of a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) project.
The TIP is a document that identifies projects programmed to be undertaken or constructed during the upcoming four years. It includes project names and descriptions, the jurisdiction sponsoring them, funding attached to each project, and where the funding came from (local, state or federal funds). The TIP is updated regularly throughout the year as SRTC’s member jurisdictions have projects to add, change or remove from the program.

The amendment under consideration would:

·     Add a Spokane Valley project to the program that will reconstruct the asphalt pavement of the Sullivan/Euclid intersection and approaches with cement concrete, rehabilitate and/or replace stormwater facilities and upgrade curb ramps to ADA standards. It will also improve the geometrics of the west leg of the intersection.
·     Increase the cost of a project already in the 2016-2019 TIP from $400,000 to $550,000. This WSDOT project would install fiber optic communications and Closed Circuit TV cameras on US 2 from Spotted Road to I-90.

Details on the proposed amendment are below. Do you think the amendment is a responsible way to spend tax payer dollars? A public comment period for the amendment starts Wednesday, January 20, 2016. Members of the public are encouraged to provide input. All comments must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, January 29, 2016. Comments can be submitted by emailing to, mailing to SRTC at 221 W. 1st Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA, or by calling (509) 343-6370.

Construction Starts on Phase 2 of MLK Way In May

Construction on phase 2 of Martin Luther King Jr. Way starts in May, according to the Spokesman-Review. The project will stretch from Sherman Avenue (where the University District bicycle and pedestrian bridge will eventually be located) to Erie Street, near Brown Building Materials. The project is expected to cost $2 million.

The first phase of the project, basically an extension of Riverside Avenue, opened in 2012 and cost $3.8 million. When complete, the entire street will run from Division to a roundabout at the intersection of Trent and Perry. So far, there is no firm date for completion.

, but city officials said there is not yet a firm completion date. When this year’s phase is complete, it will add a new connection between downtown Spokane and the East Central neighborhood, passing through the heart of the University District.

In anticipation of the extension, the city spent $410,000 last year to pave Erie Street from First Avenue to the future MLK Way.

Aside from the anticipated construction of the bike-pedestrian bridge spanning the railroad tracks, the city will pave and extend the Ben Burr Trail that connects Liberty and Underhill parks. The $1.2 million project will begin in April. The multiuse path will start at the south side of Underhill Park, go underneath Interstate 90 and Sprague Avenue, and follow Erie to the river’s edge, where it will run west to meet with the Centennial Trail.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting January 25

The first meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) in 2016 is next Monday, January 25 here at SRTC. The TAC is a citizens' committee that advises the SRTC Board on policy topics and provides transparency to the transportation planning process.

The agenda for the next meeting is here. TAC meetings are open to the public and all are welcome so feel free to attend if you are interested. Meetings start at 3 p.m. at 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310.

Best Way To Get Rid Of A Giant Rock Blocking the Highway? Blow It Up

How do you get rid of a 20-ton boulder blocking an important stretch of highway? Caltrans blew it up. A landslide in the Sierra Nevada blocked the westbound lane of U.S. 50 blocking the highway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.

Crews drilled holes in the 18 foot rock and placed explosives in them and then the fun started. You can see for yourself below.

Higher Fines Proposed for Left Lane Campers

I know several of you who will love this. Driving slow in the fast lane could get more expensive in Washington under a proposal that would impose penalties for “aggravated left-lane driving” with new fines based on how slow they are going.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the proposed Senate bill says driving slow in the left passing lane of a multilane road can create safety hazards and cause other drivers to brake unexpectedly or create traffic congestion.

The state already has a traffic law against driving too slowly and blocking traffic in the passing lane. The fine for that is $136. Washington State Patrol officials said troopers made about 14,000 of these stops in 2015.

The proposed law would add another fine for continuously driving at slow speeds, based on how far below the speed limit someone is driving.

Between 1 and 5 mph, the extra fine would be $27. That would go up to $37 for 6 to 10 mph below the maximum speed limit; $52 for 11 to 15 mph and $67 for 16 to 20 mph.

The Senate Transportation Committee could vote on whether to send the proposal to the full Senate in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Millwood Trail Project Public Meeting

The City of Millwood has begun the planning and design phase of the proposed Millwood Trail project, a bike and pedestrian trail located on the former Great Norther Railroad right of way between Vista Road and the Trent Avenue overpass.

The city will host a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 4-6 p.m. at Millwood City Hall, 9103 E. Frederick Ave., to teach members of the public about the project, answer questions and receive input.

You can find more information on this project, and the meeting, here.

Spokane City Traffic Calming Workshops

The City of Spokane's Office of Neighborhood Services is offering upcoming Traffic Calming Workshops for each City Council District. The workshops will provide a one-on-one opportunity for neighborhoods to speak with an engineer and go over example project applications.

Come learn what traffic calming is and what opportunities your neighborhood has for these projects and bring ideas if you have them. For more information, go to

District One:
January 26th, 5:30-7:00pm
Northeast Community Center
4001 N. Cook St., Lower Level

District Two:
January 27th, 5:30-7:00pm
Southside Senior & Community Center
3151 E. 27th Ave., Schultz Room

District Three:
February 3rd, 5:30-7:00pm
West Central Community Center
1603 N. Belt St., Mason Room

Friday, January 15, 2016

Proposed Oil Terminal Brings Many Out for Hearing

A hearing on a crude oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington brought out over 100 people to a hearing in Spokane Valley last night, many of whom oppose it.

The Spokesman-Review reports that opponents who signed up to speak at the hearing, held by Washington's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, said such a facility would  put Spokane and other communities at risk from increased oil train traffic, without offering any local economic benefits.

Four additional trains carrying oil would travel through the area per day if the terminal is built.

Sandpoint and Missoula residents also spoke out, saying the extra trains puts their cities at higher risk for derailment and spills too. Longer wait times at rail road crossings was also a concern for many.
However, the project received support from local carpenters and boilermakers who said an oil-consuming nation like the U.S. requires a reliable supply of oil. A representative of one are carpenters union said oil trains are safer than using a pipeline and more efficient than trucking it in.

A BNSF spokesman said that oil trains travel at lower speeds through populated areas, about 20 to 35 miles per hour in our area,

Missouri State Rep Wants Cyclists to Ride with 15 Foot Tall Flags

Take this flag and triple the length and
still wouldn't be as long as this guy
is asking for.
Remember that bike with the sweet banana seat and flag you used to have as a kid? A lightweight flag that was- what?- maybe four or five feet tall at the most?

Well a Missouri State Rep wants people to ride with the adult equivalent of that flag- a 15 foot tall pole with an orange flag at the top. Yes, 15 feet!

Citylab says State Representative Jay Houghton (R) is pushing a bill that would require cyclists to carry these rods for "safety" reasons, although who's safety isn't specified.
Seems to me this pole could cause some safety issues of it's own: throwing off a rider's balance and catching low-hanging branches, bridges and wires. If you're wondering if maybe Mr. Houghton has something against cyclists, he did co-sponsor a bill in 2013 that would prohibit riders from using state roads when there is state-owned bicycle path or trail that runs generally parallel to and within two miles of the thoroughfare. Luckily it didn't pass.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Traffic Signals Will No Longer Blink at Several Locations

The City of Spokane will no longer set traffic signals to flash during early morning hours at several intersections citywide. Programmed flash will be eliminated at these intersections beginning Monday, Jan. 18, according to a news release just sent out:

·         Addison at Francis
·         Addison at Wellesley
·         Alberta at Wellesley
·         Ash at Broadway
·         Belt at Wellesley
·         Bernard at 29th
·         Broadway at Jefferson
·         Buckeye at Post
·         Crestline at Euclid and North  Foothills
·         Crestline at Empire
·         Crestline at Wellesley
·         14th at Grand
·         Grand at 29th
·         Hawthorne at Nevada
·         Holland at Nevada
·         Illinois at Perry
·         Jay at Nevada
·         Lincoln at Nevada
·         Lyons at Nevada
·         Magnesium at Nevada
·         Market at Queen
·         Mission at Napa
·         MLK at Pine
·         North Foothills at Perry
·         Pittsburgh at Wellesley
·         Ray at 17th
·         Ray at 29th
·         Regal at 37th
·         Regal at 29th
·         SE Blvd at 29th

Vehicle detection systems were recently installed at each intersection, so programmed flash is no longer needed to facilitate traffic flows. Vehicle detection allows the signals to respond promptly to vehicle demand. The system will allow for more efficient service during low volumes times when programmed flash was previously used (1 a.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays and 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends). 

Eliminating programmed flash also provides for 24/7 operation of pedestrian signals at those intersections. Pedestrian signals do not work during programmed flash.

Bike Traffic Likes in the Netherlands Change Faster When it Rains

Admit it, you're a fair weather cyclist. Nothing to be ashamed of. Even some of the most hardcore riders won't ride in the snow and rain, well, it just makes for a miserable day as you try to dry off and get warm following a bike ride to work or school in the rain. Plus it can be unsafe as poor visibility and slick roads can create safety hazards. Well, would you consider riding in the rain if the trip was faster?

The Netherlands is trying out a program to give cyclists green traffic lights faster when it's raining. According to Springwise, sensors have been connected to traffic lights that detect when it’s raining. Traffic lights on bike lanes and paths there have dedicated phasing for bikes. On wet days, wait times for cyclists will be cut from three minutes to 40 seconds. So while drivers, dry inside their cars, have to compromise and wait a little longer, cyclists can get to their destination faster. 

MLK Jr. Day Closures

It looks like we stand alone this time. Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day so there will be some local government offices closed.

SRTC will remain open but the City of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Spokane County offices will be closed for the day.

 If you come downtown that day, parking meters don't have to be plugged so shop away!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Liberty Lake Getting New Roundabout, Improvements to Liberty Lake Road

A couple of major transportation projects are slated for Liberty Lake this year; both which come with some significant state funding. According to the Liberty Lake Splash, A roundabout is slated for the intersection of Mission and Molter and Liberty Lake Road will be overhauled in 2016.

The plan is to bundle the two projects together to be bid on by construction companies interested in building them. This is expected to save money and make sure the work is being done at the same time.

Funding from the Washington Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) will cover 80 percent of the $580,000 cost of the roundabout. The Liberty Lake Road project is expected to cost about $1.2 million and TIB money will pay for about 78 percent of that. Funds from the city's 3-percent utility tax on cable, phone gas, electric and waste management will pay for the rest of each project.  

The Liberty Lake Road upgrade will include new pavement, medians, a pedestrian crossing, lighting, additional turning lanes and widened sidewalks. Adding a free right-hand turn onto the I-90 onramp is expected to improve traffic flow. 

The roundabout at Mission and Molter is aimed at preventing vehicle backup near the Meadowwood Technology Campus. Six hundred new employees will eventually work at the new Comcast office now under construction at the site.

Both projects are planned to start sometime this spring and wrap up by early summer.

Can Wearing A Bike Helmet Increase the Amount of Risk You Take?

This guy definitely looks like a daredevil.
First you're told wearing a bike helmet makes you safer. Now we're hearing that's not true. So which is it? A new report by the University of Bath says bicycle wearing  can increase risk taking and sensation seeking in adults. Because internally I guess we're all a bunch of children.

The report says humans adapt their risk-taking behavior based on perceptions of safety, meaning they often take more risks when using protective equipment.

You can see the entire report here, although I have to warn you it's some dense reading.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SRTC Board Meeting Agenda Revised

We had a slight revision to the agenda for this Thursday's SRTC Board meeting. On the attached agenda, item 59(d), Approval of TTC Chair Heleen Dewey, Spokane Regional Health District and approval of 2016 TAC Chair Kitty Klitzke, was added.

So now you know. The Board meeting is at 1 p.m. here at SRTC, 221 W. 1st Ave., Suite 310. Everyone is welcome to attend, as always.

Open House on Blake Road Sidewalk Project

Spokane Valley wants your ideas, comments, questions, and concerns on the upcoming sidewalk improvements planned for Blake Road between 8th Avenue and the future Appleway Trail. The City will host a public open house to give folks a chance to learn about the project. It's Wednesday, January 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall Council Chambers, located at 11707 E Sprague Avenue. An overview of the project will be presented followed by an opportunity for community members to share ideas, questions, comments, and concerns.

Texas' Traffic Death Calendars

Get this- someone has died on Texas roads EVERY SINGLE DAY since November 7, 2000. Since then, there has been at least one fatal crash or traffic fatality somewhere in the state every day, according to CityLab. That's a streak of 791 weeks.

Why? Several reasons. Texas has over 675,000 miles of roads, which is a lot more than any other state. Plus there is the population. In Houston, San Antonio and Dallas alone there are five million people. Texas speed limits are also higher than most states and Texans average more miles driven per year than people in any other state except California.

As CityLab says, Texas just has more people in more cars on more roads.This epidemic isn't being ignored though. In 2015, the #EndTheStreakTX campaign was launched to fight the leading cause of Texas traffic fatalities- driving under the influence.

The Texas Department of Transportation maintains calendars showing how many people died in traffic on every day of the year. They reveal that more traffic deaths happen on Saturdays and Sundays and that traffic fatalities cluster around  holidays associated with alcohol consumption like New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and the Fourth of July.

To view the calendars, click the link above.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Smart" Headphones Could Save Pedestrian Lives

New headphone technology could save the lives of people who listen to music while walking.
Unveiled at the CES tech show last week, Road Safety GB reports that the headphones allow users to listen to music as normal, but cuts the volume when specific sounds are heard.

A sensor in the headphones scans for up to ten “audio triggers” such as car noises, brakes and horns.

The headphone's maker, Harman,says its new technology will allow users to be more aware of their environment in critical situations, such as road-crossing, potentially reducing the amount of collisions and therefore pedestrian injuries.

Public Meeting To Kick Off West Hills Planning Study

West Hills Map
Spokane Transit is conducting a planning study for a transit station at Spokane Falls Community College in response to requests from community members. The City of Spokane also anticipates constructing street improvements on Fort George Wright Drive in the near term future. As a result, the STA will team up with the City for a collaborative planning effort with the following proposed scope:
  • Inventory existing conditions and develop a vision and goals for the corridor
  • Identify alternatives for a mixed use/neighborhood serving commercial center
  • Assess alternatives for a transit station at Spokane Falls Community College
  • Develop concepts for transit access improvements for the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute
  • Identify and map concepts to improve multi-modal (bike, pedestrian & transit) connections on and to the corridor
  • Develop a concept for streetscape improvements for Fort George Wright Drive
A community meeting will be held to kick off the effort on Tuesday, January 12, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College, 3410 W. Fort George Wrigth Drive in Falls Gateway Building 30, Falls Conference Room 30-212.

The Neighborhood’s goals and desires for the corridor will be discussed at that meeting. More info on the study can be found on the Spokane Transit website here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

SRTC Board Meeting Thursday, January 14

The SRTC Board will have it's first meeting of 2016 next Thursday, January 14. On the agenda: the Washington State Department of Transportation's Connecting Washington Program, appointment of Transportation Advisory Committee alternates, approval of the Transportation Improvement Program Guidebook, and tracking of the projects included in the Transportation Improvement Program. You can view the entire agenda here.

If anything catches your eye, feel free to attend the meeting. All SRTC Board and committee meetings are open to the public. 

Data Shows That Lyft Users Really Like Mexican Food and Public Transit

When I've used Lyft, it has generally been to get home after an evening out on the town or to get to a
place I wouldn't want to leave my car for an extended amount of time. Such as the airport or bus station. Apparently, that's not how most people are using the service though. It turns out that Lyft passengers need to get to Mexican restaurants and to and from transit stops.

Fortune says that Lyft this week revealed the winners of its first annual “Lyftie Awards” for local and national categories, such as most visited restaurant and coffee chain. Mexican restaurants took the top spot nationwide and Lyft found that its passengers often use its service in order to get to (and from) transit stops, which include bus stops and train stations. In fact, according to the company, transit stops were the most popular destination for its riders in 2015.

A Lyft spokeswoman says passengers often use the service during bad weather so they don't have to walk from the transit stop, or use it to get to major transit hubs (such as Caltrain in San Francisco, Penn Station in New York City, etc.) instead of closer transit stops that aren’t easily accessible.

The company used anonymized passenger data to tally up each city’s top destinations

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

DUI Rates Drop for the 16-25 Age Range

Because waving a beer bottle out the window is
never a red flag...
Here's some good news. DUI rates have dropped for young people between the ages of 16 to 25 years.

AAP Gateway says that a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows approximately 6.6% of 16- to 20-year-olds reported they drove under the influence of alcohol in 2014, a 59% drop from 2002. The rate was 18.1% for 21- to 25-year-olds, a 38% drop during the same time period.

Both age groups experienced a 39% decline in driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana combined.

So what is the reason behind the drop? The study says minimum legal drinking age laws, prohibition of driving with any alcohol level >0 for persons aged <21 all="" and="" campaigns="" checkpoints="" contributed.="" driver="" graduated="" licensing="" mass="" media="" p="" sobriety="" years="">
Those are some big numbers, considering motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group in the U.S.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Germany Launches "Bike Autobohn"

Germany is known for it's Autobahn; the highway with no speed limits. It will probably be known for it's bike authobahn next, a bike route that will eventually cover 62 miles between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm.

According to Citylab, the first three miles of the route was opened last month. The lanes are 13 feet wide so that faster riders can pass slower riders and the whole thing is fully separated from cars. The hope is that one day bicycle "highways" like this will connect the entire country. Munich is already planning a network like this one, which will stretch from the city center along 14 protected two-lane paths through the suburbs into the surrounding lake land. Cologne, has a smaller plan for a similar bike highway out into its western suburbs.

In populated urban areas, bike highways could become a viable commuter link, freeing up capacity on busy roads and railways. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

10 Traffic Myths Debunked

One of our GIS analysts opened an umbrella in my office the other day. I jokingly reminded him that he just brought bad luck on himself. He told me that's an old wive's tale and that he was going to bring a ladder into my office to walk under. It turns out that there are many, many old wive's tales, also known as myths, in the transportation world. Citylab put together a post on 10 Tired Traffic Myths that you can read here. 

It includes:
  • More roads mean less traffic
  • More transit means less traffic
  • Bike lanes make traffic worse
  • A wider road is a safer road
  • The next lane over is moving faster
  • There's no downside to cheap gas
  • Drivers pay the full cost of road maintenance
  • And more!
Read the article to find out why these are myths. 

STA Board Considering Asking Voters For Tax Increase Again

Spokane Transit Authority officials are considering putting another measure on the ballot this year. 

According to the Spokesman-Review, support has emerged to rerun the ballot measure in 2016 that failed last year  that would have raised the sales tax 0.3 percent for systemwide upgrades. That's according to Spokane County Commissioner Al French, also an STA Board member.

A trolley was the centerpiece of the proposed service improvements that would have also extended night and weekend bus service and added new park-and-ride facilities.

The April ballot measure lost narrowly. It would have raised $270 million over 10 years and brought in $60 million in state and federal grants.

In the meantime, STA staff has been trying to obtain a $50 million federal “small starts” transit grant for the Central City Line (CCL) and state lawmakers included $15 million for the CCL in a state transportation funding package to provide the match money required for the federal grant.

In December, the STA board voted to continue supporting the "Moving Forward" plan that was the basis for the unsuccessful ballot measure.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.